If you're a parent, a guardian, or a sexual abuse victim and want to claim compensation from the perpetrator, you can seek the help of a Clearwater child sexual abuse lawyer from Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. Child sexual abuse cases and claims can leave you emotionally drained. We can carry the burden of your legal claim for you and pursue the justice you deserve.
- Why Choose Our Clearwater Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers?
- Understanding Child Sexual Abuse
- Ongoing Effects of Child Sexual Abuse
- Where Child Sexual Abuse Happens
- Most Common Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse
- Accomplices to Child Sexual Abuse
- How Often Does Child Sexual Abuse Happen?
- Remember the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Personal Injury Cases
- Criminal Penalties for Child Abuse
- How do You File a Civil Child Sexual Abuse Claim?
- Damages You Could Claim in a Clearwater Child Sexual Abuse Case
- Qualifying for Punitive Damages
- Additional Resources for Child Sexual Abuse Victims
- Why Hire a Clearwater Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer?
- Contact Dolman Law Group for Your Free Case Review
Why Choose Our Clearwater Child Sexual Abuse Lawyers?
Choosing Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, for your Clearwater child sexual abuse case ensures you have a dedicated and experienced legal team advocating for justice.
Dolman Law Group focuses on personal injury law, including child sexual abuse cases, ensuring a depth of knowledge and experience in this sensitive area. Our legal team approaches each case with compassion, recognizing the profound impact of child sexual abuse. We always prioritize the well-being of survivors throughout the legal process.
Dolman Law Group has a proven track record of achieving successful outcomes in personal injury cases, showcasing their ability to navigate the complexities of child sexual abuse claims. The attorneys conduct thorough investigations, collaborating with experts to gather evidence and build a compelling case that strengthens the survivor's position. We are skilled in negotiating fair settlements but also ready to litigate aggressively when needed. This versatility allows for effective advocacy tailored to each case.
Dolman Law Group maintains a client-centered approach, ensuring survivors are actively involved in the legal process and their voices are heard. We prioritize clear and transparent communication, especially in sensitive matters like sexual abuse. Open and transparent communication is fundamental to Dolman Law Group's client relationships. Clients are informed at every stage, fostering trust and collaboration.
Our attorneys empower survivors by providing legal guidance, advocacy, and support, aiming to bring about a sense of justice and closure for those who have endured child sexual abuse. For survivors seeking justice in Clearwater, Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, is a compassionate and experienced ally committed to advocating for their rights and well-being.
Understanding Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse is prevalent in the U.S. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC), about 16 percent of youths in the U.S. aged between 14 and 17 years are sexual victims every year. Also, children between seven and 13 years are most vulnerable to sexual abuse.
Victims of sexual abuse predominantly suffer at the hands of people they know or trust, such as family or clergy members. According to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), only seven percent of child abuse perpetrators are strangers.
Child sexual abuse can take many different forms, such as:
- Unwanted touching
- Indecent exposure
- Vulgar or lascivious conduct
- Sexual assault or battery
- Statutory rape
- Sexual threats or harassment
- Exposure to or production of pornography
- Clergy sexual abuse
Sexual abuse or assault victims can file criminal and civil action. The criminal law process will prosecute the perpetrator as per the state laws. The defendant can face jail time and other penalties. However, the process doesn't involve monetary compensation for the victim.
The victim or plaintiff can also file a civil claim to claim compensation for economic and non-economic damages, including physical, mental, and emotional injuries.
Ongoing Effects of Child Sexual Abuse
Aside from the initial trauma of child sexual abuse, survivors may experience ongoing effects for months or years to come. The effects can be different for everyone and manifest as emotional, physical, and psychological challenges. Victims must have a robust support system from family, friends, and community resources. Even with this support and medical treatment, the effects of child sex abuse can be:
- Substance abuse
- Unwanted pregnancy
- Victim feel shame from thinking it was their fault or that they contributed to the abuse
- Night terrors
- Severe depression
- Trust and relationship issues
- Physical scars from broken bones and other injuries
- Permanent injuries to the genitals or reproductive organs
Victims may require ongoing therapy, act out aggressively, and even block out the trauma from their memories. Many child sexual abuse victims will experience ongoing trust issues.
These symptoms and issues can last well into adulthood. Mental health therapy and counseling can help address some of these issues, but it can take time. These treatments will also cause a substantial financial burden on victims and their parents. Dolman Law Group can assist in reviewing your options for legal relief for all the effects your child experienced due to sexual abuse.
Where Child Sexual Abuse Happens
Child sexual abuse can happen in many different locations and settings. It often occurs with people and in places that should be safe for your child. Parents may have to take precautions and have difficult conversations with their children to identify when sexual abuse is happening, as abusers are often in a position of authority or trust.
Child sex abuse often occurs in the following places:
- Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts
- Catholic churches or other religious organizations
- Foster care homes
- Sports organizations
As a parent, you should stay aware of your child's emotional or physical changes. You should take action if you suspect something wrong, inappropriate, or illegal. You want to sensitively address the situation with your child, using terms they understand.
Then, always enlist the help of our child sexual abuse attorney in Clearwater regarding your legal options. We can assist in reporting the situation to the appropriate authorities and taking action to hold abusers and other parties responsible.
Most Common Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse
As mentioned, the perpetrators of sex crimes are often people the child trusts. This can make the situation more challenging for the child because they might not always identify when sexual conduct is wrong.
Some of the most common people who are perpetrators of these crimes are:
- Scout leaders
- Family friends
- Priests and clergy members
- Daycare providers or employees
- Family members, including parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents
- Healthcare professionals like dentists, nurses, and doctors
- Community influencers like business leaders, athletes, and celebrities
Learning about these abusers can be shocking, considering these adults are often around children daily. These individuals should protect and care for children, not causing them serious harm.
Moreover, the employers and organizations overseeing the abuser also have a duty to protect children from such harm in their care. Speak to a child sexual abuse lawyer in Clearwater from Dolman Law Group to learn which individuals or organizations should be accountable.
Accomplices to Child Sexual Abuse
Child sexual abuse is not solely a problem because of individual perpetrators. It is also a growing problem because other people can also facilitate these offenses. Some accomplices to child sexual abuse include:
- Property owners who ignore security concerns
- Parents and other caretakers who neglect to supervise the child
- Therapists who did not report child sexual abuse
- A government agency that ignored reports of actual or suspected sexual abuse
- Religious institutions that cover up child sexual abuse in house
- Anyone who aids the perpetrator or looks the other way
- Educational institutions and administrators who fail to take required legal action regarding abuse suspicions
These parties might not participate in the actions themselves, but they fail to take necessary action to stop them. Some of these parties are mandatory reporters, which means they must legally report any child abuse to the authorities. Failure to do so can lead to additional legal consequences. Mandatory reporters may lose their jobs and licenses if they do not properly and promptly report suspicions of abuse. Dolman Law Group can explore options for you to hold accomplices liable for the harm to your child.
How Often Does Child Sexual Abuse Happen?
Reports show that 38 out of 1,022 children reported being a victim of sexual abuse in a recent year. This includes children between the ages of 0 and 17. Additionally, about one in seven children will be solicited for sexual acts using the internet. Currently, the average age for child sexual abuse victims is nine.
Child abuse can happen to victims of all ages, backgrounds, religions, national origins, genders, or races. There is no discrimination when it comes to child sexual abuse. Some predators have specific types of children they are looking for, while others take any opportunity possible.
Our Clearwater child sexual abuse attorneys have handled many cases involving children from different backgrounds. We are sensitive to issues resulting from same-sex abuse, victims of different socioeconomic backgrounds, and more. You can trust our team to handle your claim with care.
Remember the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Abuse Personal Injury Cases
Previously, several states had deadlines for filing sexual abuse lawsuits. However, this law has changed over time. Unlike other civil lawsuits with a defined deadline or statute of limitations, victims of sexual abuse can file a claim against the perpetrators even years or decades after the ordeal.
Donna's Law protects child sexual abuse survivors in Florida. Survivors who were molested under the age of 16 will not have a timeline to file a lawsuit. This means that even adults who suffered sexual abuse when they were younger can still have the opportunity to claim compensation.
However, filing a civil lawsuit can be challenging in some cases, especially if the perpetrator was not convicted in a criminal trial. The victim may have to prove that the defendant committed the abuse to file a claim. Your lawyer will explain more about this claim, eligibility, and legal options.
Criminal Penalties for Child Abuse
The criminal penalties for child sexual abuse will vary by case, depending on the nature of the conduct and the age of the perpetrator and victim. When considering age, the penalties may include the following:
- Perpetrators who are at least 18 years old and abuse children under 12 can face felony convictions that carry life sentences, permanent sex offender status, and a maximum fine of $10,000.
- When the perpetrator is over 18, and the child is between 12 and 16, the penalties are applied as a second-degree felony with 15-year imprisonment and sex offender probation for 15 years with a max of $10,000.
- If the perpetrator is under 18 and the victim is under 12, it is a second-degree felony.
- If the defendant is 18 and the victim is 12 to 16, it is a third-degree felony. It carries five years of sex offender probation, $5,000 fines, and five years imprisonment.
These penalties punish the abuser and aim to prevent additional abusive conduct. They do not, however, provide extensive compensation for victims and their losses. A child sexual abuse attorney in Clearwater can advise you on the options you have for seeking compensation from a civil sexual abuse action.
How do You File a Civil Child Sexual Abuse Claim?
A child, parent, or legal caregiver has the right to sue for child sexual abuse. Also, the caregiver or parent can sue for the harm or emotional distress that stems from the abuse.
To prove a child abuse claim, your lawyer will use the child's medical records, including proof of treatment, physiotherapy, counseling, and a victim's signed statement of truth. If the victim is a minor, the parent or caregiver can give a statement on their behalf.
Your lawyer must also prove that the victim was at the location of the abuse, which can be the school, church, or residence.
Damages You Could Claim in a Clearwater Child Sexual Abuse Case
Since child sexual abuse is both a criminal and civil case, the survivors of the ordeal can recover compensation for the economic and non-economic damages they incurred due to the abuse. The damages that a victim can claim include:
- Current and future medical bills: If the child sustained physical injuries that require medication or hospitalization, they can claim compensation for any medical-related expenses.
- Pain and suffering: This compensates the victim for the physical or emotional pain they endured due to the abuse.
- Current and future mental health treatment: Sexual abuse can have long-lasting emotional and mental effects. A victim may require psychological treatment or therapy to deal with the impact of the ordeal. This damage covers all cognitive health-related costs.
Child sexual abuse victims can claim compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety disorder, depression, or any adverse effects of the abuse. Adults who suffered sexual abuse when they were young can claim drug and alcohol abuse, criminal tendencies, or difficulty holding employment.
In some cases, the court can also award victims punitive damages, especially in the possibility of exemplary and aggravated damages. This mainly occurs in extreme abuse or circumstances, and the court wishes to make an example of the perpetrator.
Qualifying for Punitive Damages
There are rare circumstances where punitive damages may apply to civil injury cases, and sexual abuse claims are common examples. These damages go beyond the regular compensation that personal injury victims typically receive. Your case must meet specific requirements to qualify for punitive damages, and sexual abuse cases may often fit the bill.
Florida requires that you meet the following qualifications for punitive damages:
- The defendant must have acted intentionally or with gross negligence. This is rarely a question in child sexual abuse cases since the adult can rarely assert this was an accidental situation.
- You must prove liability and their conduct through clear and convincing evidence. This requires more evidence than proving liability in general.
Dolman Law Group is here to assess your case and whether you can potentially get punitive damages. This requires taking your case to court, and we determine when this is the best option for your child.
Additional Resources for Child Sexual Abuse Victims
This is a challenging time for everyone, from the child to their parents and others in the child’s support system. It can require professionals and others to help move forward. You can find comfort in the following community resources:
- Kristi House: resources for child victims and their families
- Stop It Now: this resource is for adult survivors of child sexual abuse.
- Lauren's Kids provides guidance and education for victims.
- RAINN: helps children of sex abuse and connects them with local resources
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network: the organization provides therapy and evaluations for child sexual abuse victims.
- Darkness to Light is a national organization that helps families and children find therapists and local resources to regain power.
You may also discover local resources in Clearwater to address the issues arising from sexual abuse for you and your child. While you get emotional support, our Clearwater child sexual abuse lawyer can provide all the legal support you need.
Why Hire a Clearwater Child Sexual Abuse Lawyer?
Every child sexual abuse claim is different. Whether you can file a lawsuit and what to claim will depend on the factors of your case. However, anybody can file a sexual abuse claim, including:
- Adult survivors who were victims of sexual abuse as minors
- Parents seeking justice for their children
- A minor advocating for themselves
While children have a right to claim compensation, facing a perpetrator can be very challenging. Child sexual abuse lawyers know how best to handle such claims while protecting the child's privacy. Your lawyer will:
- Liaise with the proper authorities to ensure the child's safety
- Investigate the case and gather evidence
- Identify all liable parties
- Determine the damages to pursue and the claim's value
- Negotiate a fair settlement or award
Your lawyer will fight for your rights and seek closure. Child sex abuse lawyers work with experts, witnesses, and relevant authorities to ensure that the perpetrators take full responsibility for their actions and that the victims get justice. Stepping forward and claiming compensation can help expose other unforgivable practices in the community and ensure that no other child becomes a victim of abuse.
Contact Dolman Law Group for Your Free Case Review
If your child suffered sexual abuse at school, church, or anywhere else, they can have a right to claim compensation. These cases can be overwhelming, but hiring a Clearwater child abuse lawyer can provide guidance through the process.
Our team of Clearwater personal injury lawyers is ready to fight for your rights at Dolman Law Group and offer you responsive legal help to file a claim or lawsuit against the perpetrator. Contact us today at (727) 451-6900 for your free, confidential consultation.